Amazing Characters

Great characters can be instrumental in drawing readers into a story, and they can help carry the story during the slower chapters.  To me, a book can have a brilliant, unique plot and still bomb if the characters are poorly written.  I don’t have to understand the characters, or even like them, but I have to invest in them.  They need to be believable and flawed. 

I was thinking about some of my favorite characters from over the years and I noticed that, for the most part, they’re from my favorite books.  That turned into kind of a chicken and egg question: would they still be my favorite books without my favorite characters or would they still be my favorite characters if they were from books that I thought were just okay?  I tend to think the characters are a huge factor in how much I like a book.

Here are some of my favorite characters (I’m sure I’m forgetting some big ones, but here’s a random sample from my memory):

  • Lestat de Lioncourt (The Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice)
  • Roland (The Dark Tower series, Stephen King)
  • Morgaine (The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Raistlin Majere (Dragonlance Chronicles, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman)
  • Tyrion Lancaster (A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin)
  • Jamie Fraser (Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon)

All these characters felt incredibly real to me, larger than life, and I couldn’t wait to see what they would do or say next.  I could relate to them, sympathize with them or they could aggravate me to no end.  Either way they kept me glued to the page and thinking about the book long after it was closed.

Who are some of your favorite characters?

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11 Comments »

  1. Would you recommend the Outlander series for guys? I’ve had the first book on my shelf for years, and have always passed it over when deciding on a new book to read because I’ve heard from some of my women friends that I wouldn’t enjoy it. What say you?

    To answer your question, though, some of my favorite characters:
    Switters, from Tom Robbins’ Brief Invalids Home From Hot Climates
    Conor, from Leon Uris’ Trinity
    Ignatius Reilly, from John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces
    Owen Meany, from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany
    Peekay, from Bryce Courtney’s The Power of One
    Henry from Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife
    Sully, from Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool
    Robert Langdon, from Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (just kidding – making sure you’re still paying attention…)

  2. Jamye Said:

    Hey Greg,

    I think I would recommend the Outlander books for guys. They’re full of action and adventure and lots of violence (not that all guys like violence, but it’s very exciting narrative). Plus they’re told from the point of view of several different characters (not just Claire), including Jamie Fraser, who is a fantastic character! I’ve heard some people refer to the books as romance novels but I don’t think they are at all. Let me know what you think if you decide to try them!

    Trinity is a great book! How is The Time Traveler’s Wife? I’ve been thinking of getting it.

  3. Hey,

    Yeah, I’d frequently heard them described as romances as well, which is what scared me away. Based on your recommendation, maybe I will finally look into the series – I’m already way, way behind! What are there, like 10 of them, and they’re all about 1,000 pages?

    The Time Traveler’s Wife is sensational! Great characters, inventive plot, and fantastic writing. Highly, highly recommendeded (though, avoid the movie at all costs!)…

    • Jamye Said:

      I’ve never really read a romance so I can’t be certain, but they’re not at all how I always imagined romance novels. LOL. I would classify them as historical fantasy. Yeah, I think there are almost ten now. But they’re so good!

      Hmm..I think I’ll definitely have to check out The Time Traveler’s Wife. Not surprising that the movie isn’t as good. Another book to put on my growing wish list!

  4. So many great characters! A few faves:

    Emma (Jane Austen)
    Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
    Jo March (Little Women/Alcott)
    McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/Kesey)
    and I have to add Nurse Ratched
    Sethe (Beloved/Morrison)
    Precious Mawatse (#1 Ladies Detective/Smith)
    Francie Nolan (Tree Grows in Brooklyn/Smith)
    Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird/Lee)

    Lots more, of course. Jamye, this question was fun. It really brought back some cherished old friends!

    • Jamye Said:

      Scout is a great character! I have Jane Eyre sitting on one of my bookshelves but I have yet to read it. Jo March is a good one too! Glad you liked the question!

  5. Jamye Said:

    Greg – Awesome, thanks for the link!


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